When Shawn and I were first married almost 15 years ago, we honestly had no idea what we were doing financially. We had out own tendencies- Shawn’s was spend, spend, spend, and mine was hoard, hoard, hoard, which has completely flip-flopped at this point, in an ironic turn of events. It took us about 3 years to realize neither of us really knew how to pay bills and we finally read the Total Money Makeover and got on the same page. So many of these tactics are things we learned from Dave Ramsey and over years of using his system- this is not a paid endorsement, haha- it is honestly just things we have seen work for us!
Since then, we rarely argue about money. In fact, it’s one of the ways we enjoy collaborating most. We love setting goals and working toward them so that we can accomplish mutually shared dreams and visions.
Recently I was reminded of a few habits and tricks we’ve acquired over the years that haven’t cost a thing- and have actually saved us money over and over again.
So on today’s edition of Lissa’s Lists, here are my 13 ways to save money with your mindset:
1) Sleep on it. This is a great principle, and it works especially well with big purchases. This tactic helps avoid emotional purchases. I distinctly remember one occasion where I was VERY pregnant (yes, totally blaming this bad decision on the hormones) when I got a flat tire and Shawn sent me to the tire shop to get it fixed. Instead of walking out with a repaired tire, I spent about $1,000.00 on a whole new set of rims, mainly because I was exhausted and emotional. Ugh. I still regret that one. The bigger the cost, the more nights you may need to sleep on it.
2) Be in agreement with your spouse. This one sounds simple, but is actually pretty complicated. It requires listening (even if you don’t agree) to your spouse’s concerns and desires, and counting them as legitimate and worthy pieces of the decision. If we are trying to make a decision on a big purchase and aren’t in full agreement on it, as a rule- we do nothing until an agreement can be reached. Either spouse acting on their own at this point would be a major breach of trust and a clue as to deeper issues.
3) Don’t buy another until the first one runs out. This one has been SO good for me, as I stated before I tend to hoard things. This works well with beauty products and cosmetics– I am notorious for having 3-4 different types of shampoo in the shower at any given moment. It’s also great for other categories: Cars. Tires. Shoes. I ran this post by Shawn before publishing and he wants you to know that this is not recommended with milk. Or deodorant. Definitely stock up on deodorant.
4) See how long you can go without it. I personally love this type of challenge, because I am a justifier and can conjure up a good enough reason to make any purchase. So, to prevent myself from spending all our money, I will test myself and see how long we can go without. 90% of the time, we don’t actually need it or I can find something we already have that works just as well.
5) Have a no-spend day once a week. In the same vein, you can extend your challenge to a household no-spend day once a week. Tightwad Tuesdays, perhaps :). This is a great tactic if you are working to get rid of debt, and a great way to build trust and a team mentality in your marriage. Not a great tactic if you just choose to overspend the day after. :)
6) Use something you already have, or borrow it. How many times have you purchased something, only to realize you already had one? Guilty. Another thing I am guilty of is declaring a need for a new bag or decorative item, when I already have options at home. If a room needs a refresh, move things around or see what you might already have hidden in the hall closet.
7) Put it on a list for later. Or if you’re like me, and put it into your shopping cart and don’t actually check out, haha. Shawn makes fun of me, but the little “save for later” feature in my Amazon shopping cart has saved us THOUSANDS of dollars. I still get the satisfaction of “adding to cart”, but don’t actually check out. This really works well for me on Amazon and Target. And often, companies will send you a discount code for items you have not purchased that are already in your cart. So if you do need to purchase them eventually (after a good night’s sleep and consideration, of course), you have a discount code.
Additionally, if you are anticipating a big purchase, make a long-term list and order those items by priority. We do this every month at our household budget meeting and have watched these items either change in order of priority, disappear altogether, or come to fruition by way of saving up monthly.
8) Get grocery delivery or pickup to prevent impulse purchases in-store. This is a “mindset” tactic in that it saves you from those impulse purchases and keeps you sticking to a list and a set budget.
9) Don’t compare. This one is tough, and for me has been more about calling myself out when I slip into the den of comparison. A good reminder for me is that you’ll never know fully what someone else’s finances are like- they may be in debt up to their eyeballs and driving brand new vehicles, or sporting a junker car and be a millionaire. A great book for some perspective is The Millionaire Next Door.
10) Have absolutes on debt. Once we went through Financial Peace University, Dave Ramsey’s financial class, we said “no” to debt. We know that it is not an option for us, and if it causes us to personally go into debt, we are not interested. This has kept us in the black for the majority of our marriage, and has allowed us to actually accrue a decent net worth.
11) Budget spending money for yourself. This tactic helps you avoid a victim mentality when it comes to spending. If you have an allotted amount to spend on whatever you like, there will be no need to justify purchases because you feel like you were overlooked/never get to spend money on yourself (insert your excuse here). This also gives you permission to make an emotional purchase within a safe spending limit. Emotional purchases are totally ok- as long as they don’t kill your big plans and stay within the budget.
12) Take time to do the research and get educated. This has also been a huge tactic on big purchases for us. We have learned not to spend money on anything we don’t understand (this includes investments). And if we don’t understand yet, we need to do the research and/or get educated. Those have been such gifts and at times have changed our minds on what we actually spend our money on.
13) Do a budget (with your spouse if you are married) and stick to it. If it’s not clear yet, we are pretty hardcore about budgeting around here. At this point in our marriage, it is a 30 minute meeting once a month, and no big deal. It didn’t start out that way, though- and definitely took some practice to perfect. This is the ONE key item that will change your trajectory. If you want to learn how to do a budget, read the Total Money Makeover.
I realize how many times I have referenced Dave Ramsey in this post, and no- this is not a paid endorsement! It is just a relatively simple system that has worked well for us. If you need direction, I would start with The Total Money Makeover book or enroll in a local Financial Peace University class.
I hope this has been helpful! Which tactic speaks to you the most? Do you have any to add to this list? I’d love for you to share in the comments!